Wondering what to do in Arkansas in winter? Wintertime in Arkansas is always interesting. Some years there are several inches of snow and ice to cover the roads and fields, and other years it is warm enough to wear shorts on Christmas day.
One thing is certain, though, no matter how cold or warm the weather may be, Arkansas holds home to some unique, memory making festivals and events that will make traveling throughout the state a highlight of your winter.
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The Best Things to Do in Arkansas in Winter
In no particular order…
Light Trails (State-Wide)
Most towns you will visit in Arkansas have a light display or trail that is great for a cold day family activity. These light trails are typically drive-through displays that only charge a small fee for a car to go through.
The light trails funds raised will also go towards the city and maintenance of the displays, though some towns may put their funds elsewhere. It is not difficult, though, to find information about the light trails that are in or near the town you plan to visit in Arkansas.
Little Bit of Christmas (Jonesboro)
Little Bit of Christmas is an annual craft show held in the First National Bank Arena on the campus of Arkansas State University. The 3-day event is held every year in November to help raise funds for athletic scholarships at the university.
Little Bit of Christmas began in 1987 and has now grown to feature over 250 booths of vendors from all around. This craft show is a perfect place to find a unique, one-of-a-kind gift for anyone and everyone in your life.
Christmas Winter Wonderland (Fort Smith)
The Christmas Winter Wonderland is an indoor walk through Christmas show that gives the entire family an opportunity to experience a full winter wonderland, complete with Santa’s Express train ride and pictures with Santa.
This indoor show features several Christmas scenes to see, even including Santa’s workshop. Children can also enjoy storytime with Mrs. Claus and fresh-baked cookies and hot cocoa. There is no doubt that the family will have fun making memories in this indoor winter wonderland.
Lawrence Plaza (Bentonville)
During the summer months, Lawrence Plaza is a water park full of fun for children, but November to January, it is transformed into the region’s only permanent outdoor ice-skating rink.
The entire family can come and enjoy the outdoor adventure of ice-skating. The plaza also allows for party rentals so that up to 40 skaters can come and enjoy private time on the ice. There is nothing quite like this outdoor ice rink in the entire state.
Wintertime adventures do not have to be based solely around the holidays, and ComiConway is just that adventure to experience. ComiConway is a convention intended for the celebration and appreciation of the art and benefits of comic books.
This literacy-focused convention focuses on the writers and creators who truly bring comic books to life, though it does still have its fair share of costume contests and media guests. It is a great way to stir that creative energy during the colder times of November.
Lanterns! Festival (Little Rock)
Lanterns! Winter Festival is a 3-day event held around the first full moon of the lunar new year. The event is held at Wildwood Park and features different cultural destination and period spotlights throughout the park.
Guests will enjoy a variety of entertainment, food, and drink as they stroll through the wonders of Wildwood Park and its array of lanterns. The Lanterns! Winter Festival is an excellent way to celebrate the ending cycles of winter and prepare for the new adventures that will be brought in spring.
Christmas Gift Show (Mena)
Every year, throughout the months of November and December, the Mena Art Gallery holds a show entirely of handmade items from local artists. Mena Art Gallery is a community-based arts organization with the goal of bringing art into the lives of those in the Ouachita Mountains no matter their age or level of experience.
The Christmas Gift Show is a great way for those within the small community to profit from their love of their craft. It is also an opportunity to find a gift like no other for everyone in your life.
Arkansas Craft Guilds Annual Christmas Showcase (Little Rock)
The Annual Christmas Showcase is an event for the members of the Arkansas Craft Guild to showcase their unique, fine handcrafted works. This 3-day event is a holiday shopping opportunity that allows for the chance to find the perfect gift for everyone in your family.
The Christmas Showcase features pottery, woodworking, photography, and gourmet food to name a few. This showcase is a great chance for everyone in the family to find a craft they love and support those who love to make it.
Frost Fest (Fayetteville)
Frost Fest is your opportunity to celebrate craft beer, music, arts, and winter in the Ozark Mountains. This 1-day event allows guests to sample a variety of craft beer from the Ozarks while listening to live music, viewing art from local artists, and food from local food trucks.
The brewing company Fossil Cove started the event to feature craft beer and support non-profits of Northwest Arkansas.
Ozark Mountain Music Festival (Eureka Springs)
Eureka Springs hosts the unique Ozark Mountain Music Festival every year in January, being known as the festival to bring the vibes of an outdoor festival to indoor stages. Every year, guests gather in the 1905 Basin Park Hotel for a 3-day indoor music festival that highlights Americana Roots style music.
The festival also boasts as being the only festival to have guests and bands party together, as there is no backstage here. Eureka Springs is its own unique adventure, but the Ozark Mountain Music Festival will give you more experiences and memories to hold from Eureka.
Annual Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival (Wye)
The Annual Daffodil Festival is a celebration of the welcoming of early spring and fellowship at the Wye Mountain Church. The event features different craft vendors, food, live music, and historic church tours of the Wye Mountain Church.
Guests can even participate in a plant swap to begin their own garden celebrations of spring. It is a family-friendly way to finish winter and welcome spring.
Chocolate Festival and Emporium (Eureka Springs)
The annual Chocolate Festival and Emporium is a full experience of chocolate appreciation. It is an opportunity for wedding businesses in the area to showcase what they have to offer.
The event typically takes place around Valentine’s day, so it is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s day and plan any future romantic events. Vendors all feature their variety of products, leaving guests with an opportunity to sample a variety of brands. Guests also receive take-home gifts from the event coordinators.
Boo at the Zoo (Little Rock)
While it may not take place during the technical winter season, Halloween is still a wonderful time to plan a visit to Arkansas. The late fall features the rainbow of trees, as all the leaves begin to change, and the weather begins to cool.
During the week of Halloween, the Little Rock Zoo features costume contests, live music, a haunted train ride, and more for guests of the zoo. It is an opportunity to let the family have a unique experience at the zoo in their costumes while still learning about the animals. It is a great opportunity for the entire family to make lifelong memories.
Food and Wine Weekend (Eureka Springs)
Every year, Eureka Springs takes a weekend to highlight the culinary excellence of local restaurants. Chefs prepare signature dishes and grand meals with the perfect wine pairing for guests to experience. There are features of all types of food, so everyone is bound to find something to taste and try.
The weekend also features cooking classes, grand tastings, and education on the fine art of wine from winemakers from California. This weekend festival is sure to spark excitement in foodies of all walks of life.
Annual Home and Garden Show (Pine Bluff)
The Annual Home and Garden Show is held in the late winter, early spring by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Jefferson County and the Master Gardeners of Jefferson County. It is the perfect place to gather all your project needs for your home, lawn, and garden.
The show features vendors for live plants, home improvement projects, lawn tools, herbs, food, and even jewelry. The Master Gardeners also host seminars and how-to sessions to help give guests all the knowledge they could need to have a blossoming garden for the spring and summer months.
The Annual Home and Garden Show is a great celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer spring months.
Holiday Express with the A&M Railroad (Van Buren)
Guests can enjoy a 1-hour round trip train ride with Santa and his friends as they ride along the tracks through the Boston Mountains. The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad has been serving a 150-mile corridor of Arkansas and Missouri for 30 years, with the continued commitment to improving transportation services.
The Holiday Express excursion is a great opportunity to enjoy the scenic views of northwest Arkansas and create wonderous holiday memories. The Holiday Express excursion runs from the end of November through December.
Duck Calling Contest (Stuttgart)
The annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest is a main feature of the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in Stuttgart. Every year around Thanksgiving, guests from all around gather in Stuttgart to enjoy duck calling contests for all ages, a carnival, sporting clay competition, arts and crafts fair, sporting show exhibitions, and much more.
Stuttgart is one of the most popular locations in Arkansas for duck hunting, and the annual Wings Over the Prairie Festival is a celebration of all Stuttgart has to offer. It is a festival like no other and an event to not miss within the winter days in Arkansas.
A Few More Thoughts about Exploring Arkansas during Winter
There are many more than just seventeen events to see during the winter months, but these are some of the best Arkansas winter activities and even more unique events that can be found throughout the state.
Arkansas is a great place to find a sense of community while still appreciating the natural beauty of the state. You are sure to find an event your family will be talking about for years to come when traveling to Arkansas.
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Kirsten Hazlewood is from Paragould, AR and graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. She still remains in Paragould with her husband, two stepchildren, and their clowder of cats and raccoons.